A British Columbia man who culled 56 sled dogs was sentenced Thursday to three years probation for causing unnecessary pain and suffering to nine of the animals.

The Crown had argued during the Vancouver sentencing hearing that Robert Fawcett, former manager of Howling Dog Tours Whistler Inc., should not be sent to jail for the crime.

The dogs' bodies were discovered in January 2011 after Fawcett applied for worker's compensation on a claim for post-traumatic stress disorder.

In his claim, Fawcett said he was traumatized from being ordered to cull dogs no longer needed when business dipped following the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

He pleaded guilty in August 2011 to causing unnecessary pain and suffering to some of the animals.

During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, the Crown detailed how the tour company’s owner directed Fawcett to maintain the dogs on a most limited budget because of the post-Olympic dip.

Having to care for the animals under those conditions caused Fawcett great stress, according to his co-workers.

Nine of the dogs endured prolonged suffering, Crown lawyer Nicole Gregoire said.

She also described how Fawcett has suffered since the incident became public.

He has received death threats, had a mental breakdown and has been forced to send his children into hiding.

According to a psychological assessment, has found Fawcett is at risk of suicidal thoughts.

Gregoire stressed that Fawcett was only facing charges for unnecessary pain and suffering caused to nine animals, and he should be sentenced accordingly.

"(This is) a man who has been devastated by his actions, shows extreme remorse, has been the subject of a regretful vengeance in the public eye and has taken on a completely unrelated career in order to continue to support his family and himself," Gregoire told the judge.

Gregoire recommended Fawcett be put on probation for three years, pay a $5,000 fine and complete 200 hours of community service.

He should also never be allowed to care for a controlled animal and should be subject to psychological counselling, Gregoire said.

The maximum sentence for causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal is five years imprisonment and up to $75,000 in fines.

With files from The Canadian Press